FILE - The international arrival area at Trudeau International Airport is seen Monday, March 16, 2020 in Montreal. The head of the Canadian Airports Council says airports are poised to lose $1.3 billion due to COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Airports poised to lose $1.3 billion amid travel collapse, says industry group

Canadian Airports Council president asked Transport Minister for roughly $380 million in relief

Canadian airports are poised to lose $1.3 billion amid an ongoing global travel collapse triggered by COVID-19, says group representing the country’s airports.

“This is a situation that’s unprecedented,” Canadian Airports Council president Daniel-Robert Gooch said in a phone interview. “Airports are having some conversations now about what their financial futures look like.”

Many major airlines will be operating at half capacity by next month amid border closures and slashed flight schedules, causing fees garnered from carriers and passengers to dry up, Gooch said.

He has asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau for relief on the roughly $380 million in rent that non-profit Canadian airport authorities pay Ottawa each year.

Gooch said support could come as a rent deferral or reduction, that would help offset fixed costs such as runway maintenance.

Airports directly employ about 194,000 workers, some of whom will see their jobs in jeopardy as terminals and check-in counters clear out, he added.

“We know that the airport concessions — food, beverage, retail — they have been hit as well,” he said.

ALSO READ: YVR to increase COVID-19 screen of international passengers

The Canadian Airports Council represents 53 airports, including the country’s three largest that account for the bulk of federal airport rent.

Earlier on Tuesday, the head economist at the International Air Transport Association said revenue losses around the world are already surpassing the trade group’s worst-case projection of US$113 billion and threatening to send multiple airlines into bankruptcy.

Brian Pearce said a recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic will not come until September at earliest. “The challenge we face today is: Can airlines last that long before they run out of cash?”

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada will close its borders to most foreign nationals except Americans and bar anyone, including Canadian citizens, with symptoms of the illness from boarding flights to this country.

ALSO READ: Passenger on Vancouver-Kelowna flight tests positive for COVID-19

Air Canada said hours earlier it would halve its seat capacity in the second quarter and withdraw its earnings forecast for 2020 and 2021 amid a “severe drop in traffic” due to the outbreak, which has infected more than 168,000 people and killed at least 6,600, according to the World Health Organization.

The announcement sent company shares into a tailspin, with the stock plunging to $16.23 by midday Tuesday — roughly one-third of its price two months ago.

WestJet announced Monday night it was suspending all commercial operations for international and transborder flights for a 30-day period.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

‘Potentially life-threatening’ injuries in South Surrey crash

152 Street closed in both directions between Colebrook Road and 40 Avenue

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read